Getronics has a long and successful history, yet it remains hungrier than ever, actively seeking new acquisition targets, while using its experience of successful mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transitions to advise a growing range of clients.
Few technology companies can celebrate a history of around 130 years. Even fewer can say they are still looking for new companies to acquire to complement their organic growth.
ICT services group Getronics, founded in 1887, counts Gatwick Airport, Clarks and ING among its clients. Since then it has made a number of strategic acquisitions so that today it employs more than 6,000 people in 15 countries – and the drive to expand continues as it hunts for new acquisition targets. The firm has a complete portfolio of integrated ICT services for large and medium-sized organisations, and its selected technology partners include Cisco, Microsoft, EMC, Dell and OpenText, among others.
Getronics has a long history of M&A. It became part of the AURELIUS Group, a pan-European industrial holding company in 2012. Since then the Getronics family of companies has continued to grow. Examples include the acquisition of Thales in Spain and Latin America, which has strengthened its applications development portfolio, while recent additions of Steria Iberica and Telvent have bolstered Getronics’ presence in those regions.
In 2013, Getronics bought NEC Enterprise Solutions across four countries to further grow its Unified Communications (UC) business. More recently, it acquired T-Systems subsidiary, Individual Desktop Solutions GmbH (IDS) in Germany.
Through a strategic acquisitions programme, Getronics has transitioned from a traditional portfolio of workspace services to developing a broader service suite for today’s mobile and cloud-enabled enterprises. Getronics calls this Proactive Workspace Solutions, which includes UC, mobile applications, as well as hybrid cloud services.
Information technology should be at the heart of any acquisition process, starting with due diligence
The ambition for Getronics is to become a €1-billion company, both through acquisition and organic growth. Getronics is hunting for further acquisitions based in Europe with revenues between €15 million and €500 million. Targets include IT services companies within UC, cloud, apps, consulting, as well as vertical specialists, with strong customer portfolios. Asset portfolios, such as divested customers or service lines from larger players, are also of interest. Getronics is open to hearing from advisers and business owners with good targets.
Getronics’ successful M&A track record means it is uniquely placed to support its customers as they navigate today’s acquisitive landscape. Many of its clients have undergone M&As of their own, including Subsea 7’s merger with Acergy, RAC’s split from Aviva and Alpha Flight Group’s merger with LSC Sky Chefs Europe. Each required strategic IT consultancy and transformation services before, during and after the transition.
From experience, Getronics understands that IT is usually faced with short timeframes for integrating systems during M&As. Sub-par integration, especially when integrating disparate IT architectures, can be extremely detrimental in terms of lost productivity, sales, reputational damage and impact on morale. However, it is not unusual for IT to be neglected during M&A.
IT should be at the heart of any acquisition process, starting with due diligence. Anything that businesses can do to align systems and processes in advance will help to identify any potential integration issues, saving time and resources. With proper planning, advice and communication, ICT services need not suffer during an M&A transaction.
We regularly advise clients of the need for fast, efficient processes to ensure a practical transition. And we apply the same principles to our own business. It’s vital you take time to reassure customers and explain the rationale of the deal to staff. Even if the precise outcome is uncertain, explaining the processes and timeframes involved helps to maintain stability during an uncertain time.
Getronics employees are supportive of the company’s direction, going above and beyond to ensure the business continues to grow. The recent NEC acquisition was received positively, with 82 per cent of employees believing it had been handled well.
SIX TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL M&A
Growth in technological complexity, together with a trend towards greater centralisation and consolidation of IT systems, means that untangling, building or reintegrating separate infrastructures is one of the biggest obstacles lying in the path of any successful M&A.
However, IT is often overlooked in the M&A process. A recent survey by Deloitte found that fewer than 30 per cent of companies actively involve IT in pre-close planning during M&A.
Getronics group chief executive Mark Cook offers six tips on how to ensure effective IT integration and avoid issues such as system downtime or security breaches.
1. DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE. Align systems and processes as far as possible in the lead-up to “D-day”, identifying any major IT integration issues that need resolving in advance.
2. ALIGN IT WITH FINANCE. Costs and delays are the two main hiccups in what can often be an unnecessarily painful IT transformation process. Chief information officers and chief financial officers should work closely to set a budget to handle the necessary integration.
3. GET THE RIGHT SKILLS ON BOARD. Technology continues to advance rapidly, requiring deeper expertise in new areas, such as cloud computing and application management. Once the integration roadmap is defined, start on-boarding and outsourcing any additional skills to ensure teams can deliver what’s required.
4. MOVE FAST. The transition from pre to post-M&A IT services has to be speedy in order to streamline activities and avoid delays. Key milestones need to be defined against clear goals and the target operating model. The more agile your IT platform, the easier it will be to move quickly. Moving to a cloud-based infrastructure can significantly reduce set-up times.
5. COMMUNICATE. During the uncertainties of the M&A process, it’s important to communicate clearly with stakeholders. Employees need to be kept up to date with changes taking place in their workspace, so they know what to expect – this will minimise downtime. Stakeholders need to understand whether the M&A activity might affect them. Having a clear, comprehensive communications roadmap for IT before, during and after M&A activity is invaluable.
6. DON’T GO IT ALONE. Talk to organisations that have already been through this process. They can share their experiences of what worked well and what didn’t, so you can benefit from what they’ve learnt.